Giniel de Villiers still lying 4th overall Today, the Nissan Pickup vehicles driven by Giniel de Villiers and Ari Vatanen played a cautious hand, setting the 5th and 7th fastest times over the Atar-Kiffa stage. Giniel' s overall position is ...
Giniel de Villiers still lying 4th overall
Today, the Nissan Pickup vehicles driven by Giniel de Villiers and Ari Vatanen played a cautious hand, setting the 5th and 7th fastest times over the Atar-Kiffa stage. Giniel' s overall position is unchanged. However, the whole Dakar has been in mourning today. The loss of double champion Fabrizio Meoni has plunged the rally into despair. The whole Rally Raid family mourns the loss of another motorbike champion, just a few months after that of another star, Richard Sainct. The Nissan family would like to offer its most sincere condolences to his family,friends and his team.
A very strange atmosphere has fallen over the 27th Dakar. The special stage between Atar and Kiffer, shortened due to difficult weather conditions, was definitely not easy.
Even if Giniel de Villiers is coping quite well, the South African found the route rather trying, especially taking place the day before a marathon stage : "I am very pleased that the stage was shortened, as it was very difficult today. Four hundred kilometres was tiring enough, without adding another 250 kilometres, just before a marathon stage. A lot of sand, a lot of jumps. We stopped to deflate and re-inflate the tyres, but we still got punctures. We drove every carefully, in order to keep the car in one piece. The mechanics will have to prepare it for tomorrow' s stage - there was no point in giving them any more work."
Jean-Marie Lurquin was also pleased that the stage finished at the 400 km point : "Objectively, the 400 km were very difficult ; it would have been crazy if the organisers had left it as originally planned. It was difficult enough for us, but it must be atrocious for the amateur drivers. Dunes to cross, camel grass, sand storms and a route that was not easy to find. We had two punctures and Ari played the part of good Samaritan perfectly. We did not want to push hard, or to risk damaging the car."
Ari Vatanen and Tiziano Siviero watched over Giniel and Jean-Marie throughout the difficult 400 km. The Finnish driver was very emotional when he arrived at the bivouac, as was Tiziano, who knew Fabrizio and his family well : "It was a long day today, and even worse when we heard this sad news. Once more I am left thinking of those who are left behind, his wife and children. Tiziano was telling me that they are a very close family. I don't think we can even imagine what they must be going through at this time. This Dakar should have been his last rally. It' s a real tragedy."
Tomorrow, the second marathon stage will take the competitors to Bamako in Mali. They will move into the Sahel region of Africa, and the scenery will change. The small fast tracks, lined by vegetation, will be difficult to trace, and will make navigation difficult in the first third of the leg. After Nioro, the competitors will find themselves on narrow laterite tracks, where overtaking will be very difficult. They will also encounter the first rivers to ford. Just like in Tichit, the cars will be placed in Parc Fermé as soon as they arrive in Bamako. The stage will nevertheless include 586 km of timed sector, followed by a 208 km liaison section.